Health authorities in Spain have put to death the dog of a nurse infected with the Ebola virus in Madrid, sparking protests from animal rights groups.
Activists scuffled with police outside her home as the dog was taken away.
Authorities said in a statement Tuesday that available scientific knowledge indicates there’s a risk the dog could transmit the deadly virus to humans.
The Spanish nursing assistant became the first case of Ebola being transmitted outside of West Africa after she cared for a Spanish priest in Madrid who died of Ebola last month. She and her husband are now in quarantine.
The government had to get a court order for the euthanization over the family’s objections. Its body will later be incinerated.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at least one major study indicated dogs could spread Ebola.
“Researchers tested dogs during the 2001-02 Ebola outbreak in Gabon after seeing some of them eating infected dead animals,” Frieden said. “Of the 337 dogs from various towns and villages, 9 to 25 percent showed antibodies to Ebola, a sign they were infected or exposed to the virus.”
Dr. Peter Cowen, a veterinarian at North Carolina State University who has advised global health experts on animal infection disease risks, thinks officials are overreacting. “I think it’s very unfortunate they are thinking of euthanizing that dog. They should really study it instead,” he said.